How to Become a Dental Hygienist
Dental Hygienist Job Duties
Skills and Qualities of a Dental Hygienist
Dental Hygienist Salaries
Influential Professional Dental Hygienists
Leading Organizations for Dental Hygienists
Top Cities for Dental Hygienist Jobs
Other Careers of Interest
To become a dental hygienist, one must complete a dental hygiene program at a community college, technical college, dental school or university. Community college programs usually take two years to complete. The two year programs offer a diploma, certificate or associate degree. A four year university program will provide a baccalaureate degree. Some dental hygienists continue their education to obtain a Master's degree, which would be used in the fields of education, research or administration. Accredited dental hygiene programs require an average of 1,948 hours of study. Many of those hours are devoted to supervised clinical dental hygiene instruction.
The courses included in the dental hygiene program are science and health related. These courses can include chemistry, anatomy, physiology, pathology and pharmacology. Students in dental hygiene also take courses in dental science, including dental anatomy, oral pathology, radiography, pain control and dental materials. Oral health education, preventive counseling and patient management are also a part of a dental hygienists course of study.
Many dental hygienists work part-time. Flexible scheduling is a hallmark of this career, which allows hygienists to work 2 to 3 days per week if they choose. Some hygienists work in more than one dental office.
In 2007, the average salary of dental hygienists was $64,910. The average hourly rate was $31.21. Some of the highest paying industries for dental hygienists were outpatient care centers and dental offices, with salaries ranging from $68,590 to $65,140. Most dental hygienists are employed by dental offices.
Jean Connor, RDH lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She held numerous positions with ADHA before becoming president. She also served as president of the Massachusetts Dental Hygienists' Association (MDHA). She received her associate in science degree in dental hygiene from Middlesex Community College in 1994.
President-Elect Diann Bomkamp, RDH, BSDH lives in St. Louis, Missouri. She has held multiple positions within ADHA before becoming president-elect. Bomkamp has a Bachelor of Science Degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She has been in clinical dental hygiene practice for over 38 years. In 1992, Bomkamp received the ADHA/Warner Lambert Excellence in Dental Hygiene Award.
The California Dental Hygienists' Association promotes the oral health of the general public in California. One of the goals of the organization is to improve access to oral health care to traditionally underserved populations. Founded in 1926, the Florida Dental Hygiene Association (FDHA) represents the dental hygienists who practice in Florida. Their mission is to raise awareness of oral health care and to extend access to quality oral health care.
Michigan, Vermont and Washington are states that employ the most dental hygienists. The top paying states are Alaska, Washington and California. Dental hygienists that work in the Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA metropolitan area make $54.05 as an hourly mean wage, while those who work in Salinas, CA make $48.73 hourly mean wage. Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA is another high-paying metropolitan area with dental hygienists making $46.92 as an hourly mean wage.
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